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Eight Ways To Protect Your Property And Cut Your Fuel Bills This Winter

The severity of our winters are totally unpredictable, as has been demonstrated over the last few years. However when we do have severe weather it can cause problems and disruption in our lives that, in most instances, could be avoided with a little forethought. Below are a list of things that could help you avoid some common household problems this winter.

  1. In case of an emergency, find out where your stop tap is and check it works. Usually you’ll find it under the kitchen or utility sink, in a downstairs cloakroom, at the back of a kitchen cupboard or under the plinth.

  2. Get the boiler serviced. If you have an oil boiler make sure any oil filters are checked and cleaned, as any water present in the bowl can freeze in frosty weather and stop the oil flowing. (Kerosene won’t freeze even under the most extreme UK weather conditions, but any water present in the filter bowl or oil line will).

  3. Check the pipe lagging, and the insulation around any water storage tanks, in the loft and upgrade if necessary.

  4. Increase your loft insulation to at least 270mm. Up to 25% of the heat in a property can be lost through an uninsulated loft space so this can be a very cost effective way of reducing your fuel bills. British Gas are currently offering to undertake this work for free, (tel:0800 787 0592), or you can apply for a 100% Government grant at www.freegrants.co.uk. (This information was correct as of 17/10/2014).

  5. If you have a high efficiency, condensing boiler then check where the condensate pipe runs, and ensure it is appropriately sized and insulated if it runs through an area that is prone to freezing, such as an attic space or to an externally drain. Any external pipework should be at least 32mm (11/4”) diameter. For total peace of mind it is possible to fit a device that preheats the condensate water to around 50 degrees centigrade as it leaves the boiler which will virtually guarantees that it will not freeze, and lock the boiler out, however extreme the weather.

  6. Check any outside tap has an internal isolation valve that works. Make sure it's turned off in severe weather.

  7. If you have a dripping overflow pipe, or dripping tap where the waste pipe discharges to outside, then get it serviced before it gets frosty. In severe weather the pipe can become totally blocked with ice causing the water to overflow inside the property.

  8. If you currently don’t have full central heating controls, including a programmer, thermostatic radiator valves, motorized valves, room stat and cylinder stat, then now would be a good time to consider upgrading them. Undertaking this work has the potential to save you a significant amount of money on your annual fuel bills, especially if you have very few controls on the system at present.
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